Democrat Tedra Cobb was just a blip on the national radar — with a Twitter following of just under 5,000 and a small campaign war chest — as she challenged the sitting Republican in her Upstate New York congressional district.
That all changed after the impeachment hearing on Friday.
During that hearing, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik loudly protested after she tried to question former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch out of order and was shut down by House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff. Stefanik’s loud complaints of bias were echoed by the right-wing media landscape and picked up by a number of politicians — including President Donald Trump. However, they also generated an equally strong pushback from the left, one that has given a major boost to Stefanik’s 2020 challenger, Cobb.
Cobb, a member of the St. Lawrence County Legislature, has seen an enormous increase in popularity and a surge in donations since Stefanik’s spat with Schiff. The Democrat announced on Twitter on Sunday night that she raised $1 million in just a little over two days, and has jumped to close to 240,000 followers on the social media site.
Cobb unsuccessfully challenged Stefanik in 2018, and is running again in 2020. That bid got a major jolt after Cobb seized on what some critics considered to be a political stunt from Stefanik, who attempted to ask questions of Yovanovitch even though both parties had agreed that the time was given only to the ranking Republican and the party’s legal counsel.
Some political experts slammed Stefanik’s claim that Schiff was trying to silence her and the Republican Party, noting that she ended up with more than nine minutes to question Yovanovitch later, when it was the proper time for committee members to ask questions. Cobb called Stefanik’s outburst “political theater” and noted that Stefanik didn’t appear too invested in the impeachment hearings before television cameras showed up.
“I am overwhelmed by the support we have received,” Cobb told WWNY. “Stefanik’s partisan political theater is beneath the dignity of her office. She skipped several important private hearings— but with the cameras on, she repeatedly attempted to derail yesterday’s public hearings. Stefanik should take her oath to the constitution seriously and find all the facts in this grave matter of national security. The people of this district deserve better.”
Stefanik’s actions appear in line with a Republican strategy to attack the impeachment hearings as unfair. They have claimed that Republicans were shut out of hearings and that Trump has not had a chance to defend himself, though critics note that Republicans have been given equal time to question witnesses in hearings.